SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Remembrance and thanksgiving

The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Harry open the Field of Remembrance at St Margarets Church
The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Harry open the Field of Remembrance at St Margarets Church

We all enjoyed the Rotary ‘Young at Heart’ concert on Saturday at the Salvation Army’s Worthing Citadel.

Tim Loughton MP was the cheerful MC; my wife Virginia gave her impressive rendition of ‘Jim’, the cautionary tale by Hilaire Belloc; everyone sang the famous ‘Mud’ chorus from Rustington’s Michael Flanders’s Gnu song before we sang together the First World War songs ‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary’ and ‘Pack Up Your Troubles’.

Two days before, I had been present and presented to the Duke of Edinburgh and to Prince Harry (the Prince Henry when he signs the book) as a Warden of St Margaret’s, the church in Parliament Square.

The Princes opened the Field of Remembrance, amid the thousands of crosses laid out by service units.

I am proud to be part of a group that gives significant support to The Poppy Factory.

In between, there was a good political discussion in Ferring. I could not be present at the beginning. After being asked, I gave my views.

As expected, it became clear that each of my sensible ideas had already been agreed by the group. I am happy to be guided by people like that.

The reason I had been at Westminster on a non-sitting Friday morning was to be able to listen to the eighth sitting of the UK Youth Parliament, marking the beginning of the Parliament Week.

This year nearly one million took part in the debates chosen in the annual Make Your Mark ballot of 11 to 18 year-olds.

The welcoming message from the Prime Minister described the day as ‘a wonderfully inclusive example of democracy in action’.

The Speaker John Bercow kindly welcomed me, generously saying: “He has a long track record of service to the House of Commons and he is a long-term believer in the rights and opportunities of young people.” The packed Chamber gave me a loud round of applause; that was a first.

This Sunday, as once in three years, I could join the East Preston march and congregation at St Mary’s church, before laying wreaths at the village war memorial and later at the Kingston Gorse memorial.

“We shall remember them.” Two years in three, I parade in Worthing first.

On Monday with other MPs, I questioned the Transport Secretary and the rail minister about the disruption on Southern rail.

The problems are made worse by the action by the RMT.

If nearly all their members have agreed to the new contract, what is the justification for further disruption for the travelling public?

I would prefer to be able to push to solve the other problems that cause delays.

On Tuesday I joined fellow MPs to receive a briefing on the ambulance patient transport service.

We represent the drivers and those they carry. The service needs to be reliable with modern communication.

If you read The Times newspaper, you may have noticed my response to the suggestion that it should be impossible to stand for Parliament under the age of 30 and that no one should be elected more than twice.

My letter pointed out that Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill would have been barred initially and they would each have been ejected before becoming Prime Minister.

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